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Avian flu: Bruges ensures safety of its trademark swans

06:37 21/11/2020
From Flanders Today

Bruges' famous swans were all rounded up this week and moved to a more protected environment in response to the bird flu being detected in Ostend. Three wild birds at a rescue shelter were found to be infected with the contagious virus.

As of last Sunday, everyone in Belgium who keeps chickens is required to enclose runs entirely, including along the top. The idea is that no birds can potentially get in (or out) of the run. Food and water must be placed inside the coop.

The canals of Bruges, less than 30 kilometres east of Ostend, are home to more than 100 swans, beloved among residents and visitors alike. City officials were not taking any chances and so have moved the swans to property belonging to the parks and gardens department.

Catching the swans required a bit of forethought because if the birds feel threatened, they will just fly away. The city normally feeds the swans and so stopped for a few days. Then workers arrived on the sides of canals with a bit of wire fencing, creating a pen, which they threw grain into.

Once inside, the swans – who are quite used to people – are pretty easy to catch. Each one is wrapped up in a little jacket to protect its wings, put in a basin and transferred to the facility. On the temporary grounds, they are protected by fencing, and workers have created little ponds for them to swim in.

Photos: ©Kurt Desplenter/BELGA

Written by Flanders Today